Can a House be Put Up for Sale before Probate is Granted?
Yes, you can put a property up for sale before Probate is granted, but you can’t complete the sale until a Grant of Probate has been issued by the Probate Registry (Court). This can cause issues for both the buyer and the seller as obtaining Probate and administering an Estate can be a long process.
We explain what you need to do if you’re selling a property that needs Probate, along with what it means for you as a buyer if you’re buying a Probate sale house.
It’s estimated that one in ten properties in the UK is a Probate sale. A Probate sale is when the owner of the property has died and the property needs to be sold. In the Probate process, this is known as liquidating the asset.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Probate Solicitors.
Selling a Property that Needs Probate
If you are an Executor named in the Will or have been granted letters of administration to administer the estate of someone who died without a Will it is your job to make sure that you manage the Estate efficiently. You will need to realise (liquidate) all the assets in the Estate before you can distribute the assets as per the Will, or sometimes before you can pay all the inheritance tax due. In order to complete on any property sale, you would a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration, also known as a Grant of Representation.
As an Executor or Administrator you will need to know how much the property is worth in order to calculate the value of the Estate for Inheritance Tax purposes so getting the property on the market before Probate is granted makes sense. You can ask an estate agent to value the property for you. The Revenue Office will usually expect you to get more than one valuation and it would be wise to get three. You should inform the estate agent that it’s a Probate sale so they can manage any potential buyer’s expectations.
The value of the property usually forms a significant part of the value of entire the Estate which includes additionally any cash, investments, insurance policies and contents from the property. You will need to ascertain if the deceased had any debts (also known as liabilities) including the funeral account, utility bills and Council Tax and sums owed to family members or friends. The liabilities need to be deducted from the value of the assets held do that can determine if any Inheritance Tax is payable. This is all part of the process for applying for a Grant and you need to make sure the figures provided are accurate.
You may need to do some work on the property before you put it on the market to make sure you get the best price. This could include giving the property a clean and a good airing. You could even buy some plants or flowers to brighten it up.
You’ll need to instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor to help you with the property sale. You should inform them that it’s a Probate sale, so they are aware of the situation.
Once you have the Grant you can exchange contracts and after this, the buyer is legally obliged to buy and cannot pull out without incurring fees which means you have secured the sale.
For more information see Selling a Probate Property.
Buying a Probate Sale Property
You should be aware from the outset that the property you’re buying is a Probate Sale. This may mean that the process will take longer or be more complex.
You can get as far as exchanging contract but it is often not recommended that you exchange contracts without seeing the Grant. By exchanging contracts, you can be certain that the seller is committed to selling to you as they can’t pull out without incurring fees at this stage however you are similarly tied down to the transaction. It is recommended that you keep an eye on how long your mortgage offer is valid for, as this could run out if time goes on. Talk to your mortgage lender as they will almost certainly extend the offer for you if you explain the circumstances.
If you need help with obtaining a Grant speak to our experienced Probate Solicitors today.
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